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Tony Abbott Says He Won’t “Succumb To The Cries Of Human Rights Lawyers” On Asylum Seekers

Lawyers say PM’s “foolish” comments are proof of the government’s failed asylum policy.

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Prime minister Tony Abbott has drawn ire from prominent human rights lawyers after telling reporters in Queensland that the coalition is the only government strong enough to be capable of stopping the boats.

"I'm also confident that only this government can keep them stopped because any other government, I suspect, would quickly succumb to the cries of the human rights lawyers and others and what that would mean, very quickly, is that the people smugglers would be back in business."

Mr Abbott, who studied law at university, made the comments after he was asked if the Government knew about sexual abuse on Nauru, and whether he was planning to set up a Royal Commission to investigate the claims.

Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

He did not respond to that question, but expressed his confidence in the Nauruan government.

"Yes, Australia has an important role to play but I'm confident that the Nauruan Government is doing its job.

Above all else, I'm confident that this Government has largely stopped the boats."

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse, who mounted a constitutional challenge to the High Court over the detention of 157 asylum seekers on a customs boat, says it is "one of the most inhumane statements I've ever heard."

Alan Porritt / AAP

"The prime minister's comment shows his complete disregard for human rights," Mr Newhouse told BuzzFeed News.

"It highlights a policy failure. The prime minister is admitting that the only way the coalition can deal with the problem of boat arrivals is by physically and psychologically harming people. That's the only solution they have.

"Surely he can do better than blame us. He needs to come up with a more humane solution."

Prominent QC and human rights advocate Julian Burnside says he was astounded at Tony Abbott's "foolish" remarks.

Apparently Tony Abbott does not regard boat people as human. What he said today is unworthy of a PM http://t.co/jMVGYbV6VS

"It must flow from [the belief] that he does not believe in human rights as having any value, or that he doesn’t believe that boat people are human.

"It seems that Mr Abbott thinks that you have human rights if you’re white or Christian or pleasant or rich, whereas the truth is you have human rights because you’re human."

Abbott: other govts would “succumb to the cries of the human rights lawyers" Other humans would hear cries of kids in indefinite detention

If Abbott won’t succumb to the cries of abused kids on #Nauru, he certainly won’t to the cries of human rights lawyers. #asylumseekers

@alex_c_lee 'succumbing to the cries of human rights lawyers', yeah that's girly-man behaviour! Real 'strayans ignore human rights!

“You have human rights because you’re human” That this has to be said at all… saddens me #realaustralianssaywelcome http://t.co/vzRxFaxOs2

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